Art 2009: Musical Chairs

In the past four years, the Ventura Music Festival has partnered with the local art community to help raise funds for the Festival. In 2009, in honor of its 15th anniversary, the Festival’s art exhibition celebrated each year since its founding in 1993 by commissioning 15 one-of-a-kind “Musical Chairs.” Each handcrafted chair featured a unique perspective as artists incorporated their own style and interpretation of the Festival’s theme Ruskaya: Music…the Soul of Russia.

Fifteen identical plain pine wooden chairs were given to 15 local artists who carried out their own vision of the season’s theme. The finished chairs were unveiled December 10, 2008 and then displayed at locations throughout Ventura County for the 2009 festival season.

A gala dinner and auction took place on March 14, 2009 at the Four Points by Sheraton in the Ventura Harbor. Guests enjoyed a festive evening of fine dining, wine and entertainment, and a silent and live auction featuring the popular 15 hand-painted one-of-a-kind “Musical Chairs.”

2009 Festival Artists

Renee Allem, Oxnard

Born in South Africa, Renee is a fine artist with a Bachelor of Fine Art degree from Wits in South Africa, where she majored in painting and graphic printmaking. An abstract expressionist, she paints on a multitude of diverse surfaces and creates three-dimensional sculptures from a variety of metals, woods and ceramics. She has recently created an art program for hospitalized children designed as therapy.

About the chair
Renee’s chair is called “Afraique”. The tribal zany-zen design is a combination of black and white African-inspired drawing, simple yet complex in composition, the zing and zang of black and white.

Chair by Rob Edwards

Photo by Derek Gulden

Rob Edwards, Ventura

A self-taught painter, Rob received a B.A. from the College of Arts & Sciences at Lehigh University with graduate level studies at UCLA and with world-renown landscape architect Ian McHarg. As executive director of the Downtown Ventura Organization, his print and radio advertising campaigns have won local, regional and international awards.

About the chair
Rob’s chair is stained and upholstered to evoke a refined masculine aesthetic.

Stephanie Elise, Ventura

Stephanie is a Southern California artist who works primarily in watercolor. “Watercolor to me is like a silent language; it reaches out and touches me with the entire spectrum of emotion. This emotion is what keeps my paint brush moving,” she says. “My goal is to take the viewer on a journey of visual pleasure.” Stephanie has taught watercolor painting for the past 17 years.

About the chair
Elise’s Russian Tea Party chair is highlighted with traditional Russian symbols, including a gold leafed Russian samovar, a symbol of Russian hospitality. On the back side is a Russian red rose and draped around the chair are hand painted pearls. The seat is covered with lush faux mink fabric.

Barbara Fitzgerald, Ventura

Barbara has been involved in the arts her entire life, from The University of Connecticut to Ventura Community College. She has worked in oil, watercolor, pastels, life drawing, stained glass, pottery, needlepoint and most recently dyed silk. Her works are in private collections throughout the U.S. and internationally, and have been donated to many local nonprofit organizations.

About the chair
Fitzgerald’s chair is done in a jungle theme, with an array of rich colors and animals looking out from behind.

Hilda Kilpatrick, Ventura

Raised by an artistic family in Trujillo, Peru and influenced by impressionists and the early California painters, Hilda’s palette is warm and sunny, with nature in the forefront of her work. Enhanced by her extensive travel throughout Europe and South America, Hilda’s style reflects that life should be lived as an adventure. Her paintings appear in many private collections around the world.

About the chair
Inspired by Russian Impressionists, Kilpatrick created “Sunset Impression.” “They were expressing the feeling of their Russian Soul and going beyond the parameters of the conventional art and social repression.”

Norman Kirk, Santa Paula

Best known for his watercolor paintings, Norman studied at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Los Angeles Art Center School of Design, UCLA, Chouinard, DePaul University and Ventura College where he has taught watercolor painting since 1982. His paintings have won countless awards in juried shows and has works presented in galleries and museums throughout California.

About the chair
Kirk’s chair is entitled “Adagio”, which contains images of composers, musicians, instruments, and other symbols representing the world of music. They are depicted with a combination of collage, original painted compositions, and unified with brushwork woven through the juxtaposed imagery.

Rex Kochel, Ojai

An educator for 34 years, Rex’s art adventure began with watercolor when he was in his 30’s. Eclectic in style and with strong compositional focus, he frequently moves towards abstraction. His signature style is the whimsical and lyrical paintings from blind contiguous line drawings. Kochel’s work is frequently shown at the Buenaventura Art Association and the Santa Barbara Art Association.

About the chair
Kochel’s chair has a religious theme, containing images from St. Basil in Moscow, Russia.

Susan Krieg, Ventura

Susan Krieg is an internationally known artist, having painted more than 400 large-scale paintings from her Archetypes Series. Equally prolific creating florals, still life’s, commissions, landscapes and trompe-l’oeil, her work is included in the 2007 Best of America Mixed Media Artists Vol. 1. Susan’s work is on display at the Taj Majal casino and at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, New Jersey.

About the chair
Included in Krieg’s chair are Scriabin, Dostoevsky and Vasnetsov, along with visual elements of folk art, architecture and Russian design. As a piece of contemporary art, her chair represents a sensory moment of Russian passion and is titled, “The Height of Passion, Remembered.”

Elana Kundell, Newbury Park

Kundell’s abstract oil paintings are inspired by the five senses, by thoughts and emotions interwoven into organic layers of color. Having studied at UC Santa Cruz and at the Academia di Belle Arti in Bologna, Italy, she has been the recipient of several grants and is currently an artist-in-residence at Studio Channel Islands Art Center in Camarillo.

About the chair
Kundell’s chair is entitled “Sweet Thing” after Jeff Buckley’s rendition of Van Morrison’s song. Her chair expresses fearlessness, freedom and life, and is dedicated to her niece Lula.

Christina Leong, Camarillo

A resident of Camarillo since 2002, Christine is a native of Hong Kong with a passion for Chinese watercolors. Her specialty is in kois and floral and her artworks reflect unique and original Chinese watercolor images that combine Asian and Western painting techniques. She has earned numerous prizes and has exhibited extensively around the world.

About the chair
Leong’s chair “After the Harvest” contains images of Russian farmers dancing and playing musical instruments in a field.

Chair by John Parker

Photo by Derek Gulden

John Parker, Ventura

A visual artist, musician, and graphic artist, John is inspired by modern art masters such as Modigliani, Picasso, Klimt and European poster art of the early 20th century. He has created graphics for local events and serves on the Board at the San Buenaventura Artists Union Gallery. This is his fourth year creating signature art, brochures, ads and all graphics for the Ventura Music Festival.

About the chair
When describing his chair, Parker says “Listen! Has the music stopped? When it does...have a seat! Here, where light and darkness meet, where day and night cast purple shadows on the street.”

Len Poteshman, Ventura

Len attended the Chicago Art Institute and supervised the art crimes department for the FBI, Interpol and Los Angeles County Police Department. He prefers to work with spontaneity rather than plan his pieces consisting of epoxy, drawings, collages, paintings and sculptures. He has been exhibited throughout the United States as well as Spain and Mexico.

About the chair
Poteshman’s chair contains musical instruments and seat in low relief. Russian dancers and musicians grace the back side.

Hayley Strauss, Ventura

A recent graduate of USC where she majored in fine art, Hayley focuses primarily on oil painting. She is busy preparing for her first solo show in January 2009 at the Bell Arts Factory in Ventura. Her chair was inspired by the epic film, “Dr. Zhivago” and captures winter in the Russian countryside.

About the chair
Strauss’ chair was inspired by the epic film, “Dr. Zhivago” and captures winter in the Russian countryside.

Pamela Vladyka-Venegas, Ventura

Pamela has exhibited at galleries in Ventura, the Ventura County Government Center, private businesses, artwalks and private showings. She is currently working on a private consignment, a panorama of the Ventura pier and surrounding vista. She has taught sewing with the Ventura Assistance League Girls Club for seven years.

Kay Zetlmaier, Ventura

Coming from a family full of artistic talent, Kay studied art at Pasadena City College, Long Beach State University and Cal State Dominguez Hills. She has taught art in California’s public school system for 25 years and endeavors to capture the pure beauty of nature’s composition and preserving it through her art.

About the chair
Zetlmaier’s chair is called “The Firebird” after an old Russian folk tale about a journey to capture a thief stealing apples from the Tsar’s orchard. The chair illustrates the story and culminates with a portrait of Igor Stravinsky on the chair’s back, with the Firebird’s feather as his baton.